The second Sunday in July – this year the 11th July – is known as Sea Sunday and is when the Church comes together across the globe to celebrate the role seafarers play in our daily lives and to thank them for the hardships they face and the sacrifices they have been forced to endure due to the Covid lockdowns.
Seafarers are responsible for transporting over 90% of the world’s goods and fuels, making them essential key workers who often go unrecognised by the general population.
Collectively, there are over 1.5 million seafarers across the world made up of various nationalities. These are men and women who often spend up to 9 months at a time far away from their family, friends and loved ones. This can often lead to loneliness and mental health issues.
In addition to loneliness and metal health issues, many seafarers often endure money worries with the average Filipino seafarer sometimes supporting up to 15 extended family members at any one time on their wage alone.
Seafaring also remains one of the world’s most dangerous occupations, with piracy, shipwrecks and abandonment all adding to the problems that seafarers face in their line of work.
A lack of facilities available to seafarers often exacerbates these issues. In addition to limited access to external communications on board, there are also a limited number of ships with exercise facilities on board, although this is improving as new ships are built. In port, seafarers rely on Mission Port Chaplains to transport them to the nearest Seafarers Centre or local leisure facilities.
The Mission to Seafarers is there to support the men and women working at sea when they most need help.
To compensate for the lack of facilities available, all Seafarers’ Centres, spread across 50 countries, aim to provide Seafarers with:
- Access to WiFi Internet and SIM cards
- A comfortable place to rest and relax
- The chance to get food and toiletries
- Transport to shops and local amenities
It’s not just practical support the Mission offers – seafarers also need emotional and frequently spiritual support too.
That’s why the mission also has a large network of ordained Port Chaplains who come on board ships, giving seafarers a listening ear and offering prayer, if needed. They can also connect seafarers to other organisations, or speak to them on their behalf.
In 2020 the work of Mission to Seafarers encompassed:-
Ship visits: 30,576, encountering 187,140 seafarers on board their vessels.
Centres: 86,996 visits to our 121 centres.
Transport: 46,063 seafarers used our transport services.
Justice and Welfare: 1,286 cases
Digital chaplaincy: 1,913 interactions on our digital Chat to Chaplain service
PPE: 144,612 items of PPE given out to our chaplaincy teams and centres globally
India: 1,688 families benefitted from our families feeding programme in Tuticorin
Philippines: 2,876 seafarers received essential food aid, transport and practical support through our Covid-19 response programme.
Mission to Seafarers is our July Mission of the Month. Please do consider making a donation to support their amazing work – there are lots of ways to give on the Mission to Seafarers website – www.missiontoseafarers.org